Japan to announce ¥20 billion for ASEAN cultural exchanges


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce at a regional summit this weekend that Japan will extend ¥20 billion in official development assistance to promote cultural exchanges ASEAN, a government source said.

Abe will unveil the aid during the summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that started Friday in Tokyo to demonstrate Japan’s commitment to the fast-growing region and to act as a counterweight to China’s growing influence there.

The ODA will go toward Japanese-language education in ASEAN countries and other purposes, the source said Thursday.

In other areas, Japan will provide meteorological data, aid in building infrastructure and training for around 1,000 disaster experts, drawing lessons from Haiyan, the powerful typhoon that devastated the central Philippines in November, the source said.

The assistance will be reflected in a summit document mapping out a vision of Japan’s future ties with ASEAN members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Other forms of assistance include providing ¥8 billion to a fund for creating what is to be called the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, the source said.

Japan and ASEAN will also consider setting up a dialogue framework for disaster experts.

In a one-on-one meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, Abe is expected to announce that Japan will provide about ¥6.5 billion to help deal with the aftermath of the typhoon, the source said.

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